TSMGO: Building a wall…

Well, I may not be a builder, but I can build. I can’t say I’d want to do it all the time as it stops me from doing fun stuff like seeing friends or exploring, but I do enjoy it nonetheless. It all started when… actually I can’t remember… anyhoo, I ended up building a wall for a backdrop to Lucy Tornado’s ventriloquist act in which I play the dummy (‘erindoors says it’s a part with my name on).

I got the brick texture from Salazar so it matched the theatre (I even matched the brick sizes!) and started building.
Vent Act Wall 1

I decided that I wanted it to look like a RL set as much as possible do I left the back the default plywood texture…
Vent Act Wall 2

I even made some stuts and nails to hold it all up…
Vent Act Wall 3

Vent Act Wall 4

And then added a “Property of…” stamp for the back 🙂
Vent Act Wall 5

To the front I added, over the course of a few days, pictures of Lucita and Burrito the Dummy as well as a neon sign and neon star (both with glow of about 0.5 added):
A wall for the ventriloquist act

It was with the introduction of the stamp, faces and neon signs that I hit problems… how to make a transparency! The stamps and neon signs were designed in Microsoft Publisher and then saved as JPGs before being imported into GIMP. The mugshots were taken against a brown screen (as opposed to a green one as this left a visible halo of green around no matter what I did whereas the brown meant that any halo would match the background – sneaky!). The brown I used was taken from one of the bricks using the “Show Colour Under Cursor” option buried in a submenu of the Advanced menu and the screen was a simple prim stretched out and turned brown using the RGB values shown. Once I had taken these pictures I saved them to my PC from Flickr as JPG files which meant that I had five JPGs to somehow convert to TGA with all the background transparant. It was both hard and easy at the same time. Hard because it was a steep learning curve that Enjah helped a lot with, and easy as it can be done in half-a-dozen clicks. For those of you new to (the free!) GIMP like me, here is how I did it:

1) Open the picture in GIMP
2) In Layers, go to Transparency and click the Add Alpha Channel option.
3) Go to Tools > Selection and click Colour Picker
4) Click on the colour you want gone.
5) Alter the thresehold up and down (re-clicking on the colour every time you change) to get the best result you can – least amount of background whilst not removing bits of the picture you want to keep.
6) When happy, hit the delete key – the colour will vanish and be replaced by the traditional checker board that represents a transparant area.
7) If this is good, click save and choose TGA file extension. Uncheck the RLE options and the other option (the name escapes me) to make sure this is saved in a way that SL can upload.
8) Yer done. Pop in world, upload and see if it’s what you want.

Top Tip 1: When I used Publisher for the neon sign, I made the mistake of making the font too small and saving the JPG as 150dpi. This resulted in a very pixelated result once uploaded. To fix this I switched on Clear Type in Windows (Start > Contol Panel > I forget where), put the JPG quality up to 300dpi and made the font as big as possible. I also used Wordart to make it curved.

Top Tip 2: I used the free XnView to crop the finished TGA files. I foubd it made cropping the final results easier but I’ll bet GIMP can do that, I just don’t know how.

Top Tip 3: I used the Elipse Selection and Invert Selection to make the cut out faces round – you can’t really tell in the reult, but it helped avoid the ‘passport photo’ look.

Phew. I think that is it 🙂 Hope this helps anyone trying the same thing with GIMP, oh and please let me know if I can make the process any easier.